Eye-catching images project tasty aromas

by Christina Tai

Henry Yip, chief executive, Pizza Hut Hong Kong, Jardine Restaurant Group
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Even when they are thriving, businesses regularly rejuvenate their brands to inject fresh life and vitality into their corporate image

Pizza Hut has undergone a vigorous transformation during the last few years to align with their new corporate positioning, "European sensation".

This exciting new projection of its image begins with the logo, employing the robust colours of red, black and green. A dash of yellow at the bottom adds further positive strength to the logo, suggesting sharing and interaction, and projecting youthfulness, vividness, energy, getting-together and fun. At a glance it demonstrates an excellent grasp of the consumers' pulse in corporate branding, which is equally well expressed by the restaurant chain's come-hither caption in Chinese: "Happy moments, Pizza Hut". In addition, "Sizzling" is the catchy come-on it uses to describe the mouth-watering pizzas just out of the oven, with the pleasant and animated connotations that suggests.

A stylish and inviting dining ambience in the group's restaurants is created by introducing lavish designs and decorations comparable with those of five-star hotels, complemented by delectable dishes and quick, dedicated restaurant services, all at very reasonable prices. Tables are pleasantly spaced out to create a layout that gives diners a much-appreciated degree of privacy. This allows them to move about more freely without bumping into other customers, sparing them the congestion and hustle-and-bustle of many overcrowded eateries. Instead of stiff, laminated menus typical of Western outlets, casual dining is also provided with over two hundred dishes displayed on a trendy, three-dimensional menu. All of which adds up to customer satisfaction being taken into account down to the finest detail, so that the whole becomes a pleasant, leisurely and harmonious dining experience. "We take pains to push the competitive edge beyond 'more value for money' and to exceed customers' expectations," says Henry Yip, Pizza Hut's chief executive.

Enhance bonding

One important emphasis in Pizza Hut's branding is "sharing", as exemplified by its signage dish, the pizza, that best illustrates the English caption "Sharing a slice of life." "As soon as the pizza is placed on the table, they cannot wait to grab a slice — in particular, it's fun time for youngsters, since they can twirl the melting cheese around their fingers," says Mr Yip. "Finger foods always enhance interaction, laughter, and hearty chats, unlike the etiquette-conscious full-course meal where the diners are expected to sit up straight with knife and fork." Food sharing draws the customers closer to one another. Customer bonding is also strengthened because of the pleasant memories that are shared together. European foods are also the favourite of expatriate tourists, because it makes them feel at home and also is preferable to Chinese dishes which are unfamiliar to their palates.

Stimulate interaction

"Interaction" is another key word in Pizza Hut's corporate branding, and positive interaction is stimulated by introducing DIY dishes. A survey conducted before the brand revamp asked only one question: "Where would you have been to, had you not come to Pizza Hut today?" Most diners gave answers like a hotpot restaurant, a sushi bar, and related meals, all of them highly interactive and fun-filled in nature. This inspired Pizza Hut's menu choices now available today, capitalising on the present popularity of interactive dishes across restaurants of all types. DIY dishes have been introduced as side dishes such as the Norwegian salmon pancake rolls, and even as desserts.

Happy staff

Mr Yip believes that impeccable customer service comes only from happy staff, and so extends this positive interaction to the staff-management relationship with a caring company culture. A very generous bonus system lets them share a slice of the company's profits. Small gifts such as candies and cookies for the Lunar New Year allow staff to take the sharing culture home to their families. Continuous professional development is encouraged for personal and professional growth, to align with company's developments. Monthly meetings for staff from different branches are held with Mr Yip and other senior management staff. Computers draw lots to choose staff to ensure the gathering of uncensored opinions off-record. Mr Yip also hosts the daily express column, to listen to staff's sharing, including opinions, hobbies to even family matters. "Staff would only devote their hearts and souls to serve customers when they know that their company cares equally well for them," says Mr Yip.

Corporate vision focusing on long-term customer bonding has generated double-digit annual customer growth for Pizza Hut, plus various awards and accolades in the retail sector. "Customers always remember Pizza Hut for a good time. For instance, way before Christmas this year we took outside party orders for over one thousand turkeys, because Pizza Hut wishes to share in such festivities with customers by providing fine dishes at inexpensive prices. This gives customers good memories of our sharing philosophy," says Mr Yip.

Corporate branding

  • Person-centeredness
  • Sharing to shorten distances in relationship-building
  • DIY dishes to induce fun in interaction
  • Positive interaction a key focus in staff-management
  • Building inner connections and generating long-term loyalty among customers and employees alike
Leadership branding

  • Strive for excellence
  • Team spirit helps accomplish objectives
  • Clear and creative marketing strategies for efficient implementation among strategic partners
  • Platform to induce sense of achievement and satisfaction among staff
  • Adventurous spirit to take on new opportunities
  • Initiative to take on responsibilities in decision-making
  • Role modelling in policy implementation

Taken from Career Times 26 January 2007
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